Thursday, 11 August 2016

United Kingdom Statistical information - Population

Statistical data:

The availability of reliable present-day data and forecasting is essential to modern government.

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority is an independent body operating at arm’s length from government as a non-ministerial department, directly accountable to Parliament. It was established on 1 April 2008 by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

The Authority’s statutory objective is to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good. It is also required to promote and safeguard the quality and comprehensiveness of official statistics, and ensure good practice in relation to official statistics.

The UK Statistics Authority has three main functions:

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - an overview

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has a long, fascinating and complex history containing considerable political struggle over many issues.  It a subject that the serious student of constitutional law will need to examine.  This article seeks to outline how the United Kingdom has developed and an introduction to the legislative bodies in the UK.

The title United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - commonly abbreviated to United Kingdom or UK - informs us that the UK is a Monarchy and that it comprises Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Great Britain is the combination of England, Wales and Scotland.

The term "British Islands” means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.  This is not considered further here.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Sovereignty ~ What is it?

"Do you want to see sovereignty back?  Then vote to leave the EU."  That was the headline to an article in The Telegraph 8th February 2016.  It suggested that, by being in the EU, the United Kingdom had lost its sovereignty but what does that word actually mean?

There is a large amount of discussion in texts on International Law as to what a STATE actually is; how one comes into being; how one ceases to exist.  Basically, a State in international law has a population, defined territory (including airspace and water adjacent to the land territory), a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other States.  Moreover, it will be recognised as a State by other States and, of course, States can enter into alliances with eachother or other agreements (such as trade treaties, extradition treaties etc).  It is said that the State has SOVEREIGNTY. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

What is a constitution?

" ... it would be very difficult for a living writer to tell you at any given period in his lifetime what the constitution of this country is in all respects" - Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister 1923-29 and 1935-37.

This post offers some very basic points which will need to be amplified by later posts.

A constitution, whatever its form, provides a fundamental framework for the governance of a nation.  In the Quark Fishing case 2005, Lord Bingham commented (para 12): "Any constitution, whether of a state, a trade union, a college, a club or other institution seeks to lay down and define, in greater or lesser detail, the main offices in which authority is vested and the powers which may be exercised (and not exercised) by the holders of those offices ....."

A constitution of a State will deal with matters such as:
  • the structure of the State;
  • the various institutions of the State;
  • the methods to be used for law-making - the legislative power;
  • how important decisions affecting the State are to be made;
  • how the State will be governed - the executive power;
  • how disputes (including those involving government) will be dealt with - the judicial power.
Many nations have a formal,  or codified constitution and links to some examples are provided below.  Some of them are very lengthy, detailed documents seeking to address all (or most) eventualities.  Such constitutions tend to form a fundamental law of the State and other laws may be assessed for their validity against the constitutional position.  Formal constitutions often prescribe a particular procedure for their amendment so that it is more difficult to alter the constitution than other laws.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Constitutional Ramblings

1st August 2016.  The United Kingdom is coming to terms with the momentous decision of the 23rd June referendum to leave the European Union - (Brexit as it has come to be known).  It is a decision likely to lead to profound difficulties both politically and economically even though much of this was reasonably foreseeable during the referendum campaign.  A series of posts about the UK-EU relationship is available on the Law and Lawyers blog.

The vote for Brexit is bound to reignite much debate about the UK's internal constitutional arrangements.

One of the many undercurrents of the referendum campaign was the perception that too many things are controlled by the "undemocratic EU" with its "unelected Commission" in Brussels.  A view developed that it was necessary for Parliament and government to regain control over the United Kingdom's affairs.  That leads on to questions such as what form of government does the UK have and what are the respective roles of Parliament and the government.

The British arrangements for Parliament and government are complex and, in themselves, have some undemocratic features.  Unfortunately, there is generally a lack of understanding about these "constitutional arrangements."

The blog does not aim to be either a comprehensive or detailed text on constitutional law.  Nevertheless, I hope that it will be both of interest and value to those seeking some general understanding of our constitution and, in particular, younger readers who are to be encouraged to gain some understanding of how their country is governed.

The United Kingdom (UK) is actually the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  It is a Constitutional Monarchy and it is a UNION although, in recent years, it displays some characteristics of Federation.  Great Britain comprises England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

There is a United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster which is the supreme law-making body for the UK.  There are devolved Parliaments and governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  As devolved bodies they have limited powers since they are bound by the UK Parliament statutes creating them.

The United Kingdom Parliament is a form of "Representative Democracy" in that the House of Commons is an elected chamber and its members are not mere delegates but are required to exercise their own judgment with regard to matters coming before them.*  The second chamber of the UK Parliament is the House of Lords and is not elected.

The Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man are not part of the UK - see Crown Dependencies.

The Links of Interest list in the sidebar to this blog contain links to other blogs dealing with this very important and interesting subject.

* Edmund Burke - Speech to the Electors of Bristol 1774